Sandvik creates first 3D printed diamond composite
Sandvik Additive Manufacturing has created the first-ever 3D printed diamond composite. While this diamond does not sparkle, it is perfect for a wide range of industrial uses. This super-hard material can be 3D printed in highly complex shapes and can revolutionize the way industry uses the hardest natural material on the planet.
Diamond is harder than anything else in nature. It is a key component in a large range of wear resistant tools in industry, from mining and drilling to machining and also medical implants. Since 1953 it has been possible to produce synthetic diamond, but since it’s so hard and complicated to machine, it is almost impossible to form complex shapes.
By using additive manufacturing, Sandvik has managed to 3D-print diamond composites which can be formed in almost any shape. This opens the possibility of using it in applications that were previously considered impossible.
“We now have the ability to create strong diamond composites in very complex shapes through additive manufacturing, which fundamentally will change the way industries will be able to use this material. As of now, the only limit to how this super-hard material can be shaped and used is down to the designer’s imagination,” says Mikael Schuisky, Head of R&D and Operations at Sandvik Additive Manufacturing.
The difference between Sandvik’s diamond and natural or synthetic diamond is that Sandvik’s is a composite material. Most of the material is diamond, but to make it printable and dense it needs to be cemented in a very hard matrix material, keeping the most important physical properties of pure diamond.
“Sandvik’s 3D printed diamond composite is a true innovation. It means that we can begin to use diamond in applications and shapes never conceived possible before,” said Susanne Norgren, Adjunct Professor in Applied Materials Science at Uppsala University. “Just imagine what it could do to industries, when it is possible to print anything, in any shape – in diamond.”
The diamond composite has been tested and found to have extremely high hardness, exceptional heat conductivity, while also possessing low density, very good thermal expansion and fantastic corrosion resistance. It was unveiled at the RAPID + TCT show in Detroit May 21 - 23, 2019, North America’s leading event for Additive Manufacturing.
- Diamond is harder than anything else in nature.
- Sandvik’s 3D printed diamond composite was created using the additive manufacturing process called stereolithography, where complex parts are produced, layer by layer, using ultraviolet light.
- A slurry containing diamond powder and polymer is used in the process.
- After the printing, the next step in the process is even more demanding. This is the critical step where Sandvik has developed a tailor-made, proprietary post processing method that is able to produce the exact properties of the diamond composite.